A former teammate will try to cool down Alfonso Soriano as the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox square off in the rubber match of a three-game set at Fenway Park.
Soriano and Ryan Dempster spent the prime years of their careers together on the Chicago Cubs. Now Dempster will be on the mound for Boston as it looks to increase its two-game lead over Tampa Bay for first place in the AL East.
The 36-year old right-hander has taken three consecutive no decisions, although he pitched very well in his last outing. Dempster limited the Blue Jays to just one run on four hits over seven innings of work on Tuesday and the Red Sox went on to win for the sixth time in a row in games he started.
Dempster will be in good shape if Boston carries over some of the momentum it built up during the hitting clinic it put on in Saturday's 6-1 victory. Jacoby Ellsbury and David Ortiz led a 14-hit outburst. Ellsbury went 3-for-5 with two RBI and Ortiz belted a solo homer while collecting a pair of hits and scoring twice.
John Lackey contributed 6 2/3 effective innings on the mound to help the Red Sox halt a three-game skid that included a 10-3 defeat to their AL East rivals in Friday's series opener.
"The guys did great swinging the bats against a guy that's having a great year," said Lackey.
Will Middlebrooks went 2-for-3 and is now batting .435 in seven games since being called back up to the majors on Aug. 10. Shane Victorino broke out of a slump by going 2-for-5, but Dustin Pedroia went hitless in five at-bats.
The Yankees will send CC Sabathia to the hill to offset Boston's high powered offense. The 6-7 southpaw improved to .500 on the season after he surrendered two earned runs on three hits in six innings of New York's 14-7 win over the Angels on Tuesday.
"I was just able to pick these guys up today," Sabathia said after the win. "I feel like, throughout the course of the year, I haven't been able to make pitches and eliminate some of the errors. So I was able to do that tonight and we got the win."
New York's offense has been paced by Soriano recently. The seven-time All-Star is 15-for-22 with five home runs over his past five games. He hit a pair of singles in four at-bats without driving in a run in Saturday's loss after tying the MLB record held by Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Jim Bottomley, Tony Lazzeri and Sammy Sosa for the most RBI in a four-game span with 18.
Robinson Cano will be looking to bounce back after having an 11-game hitting streak end with an 0-for-4 showing at the plate. Lyle Overbay finished 3-for-4 and scored New York's lone run in the loss.
Meanwhile, Yankees outfielder Ichiro Suzuki has 3,995 career hits (1,278 in Japan) and will soon join Pete Rose (4,256) and Ty Cobb (4,191) as the only members of the elite 4,000-hit club.
The Red Sox have won six of their last eight games at Fenway Park. New York has lost five of its last six away from home and is 29-32 on the road in 2013.
Boston is 7-4 against the Yankees this season.